Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala really is the Grand Daddy of Anglo Indian Curries, grilled marinated chicken in a spicy fragrant tomato-based sauce.

Portrait image of a steaming chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl with a fork against a dark backdrop

Chicken Tikka Masala.

The Indian curry from the famous Indian province of Glasgow!

Yup, that’s right, just like my chicken balti recipe this curry recipe hails from the United Kingdom.

It features yoghurt marinaded boneless chicken then grilled under a fierce heat. This would originally have been done in a tandoor oven. But a grill or broiler is a great substitute.

It is then finished off in a heavily spiced and slightly sweet tomato sauce.

It is utterly delicious and a great place to start for any novice curry cook.

Portrait close up image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl

Are Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken The Same?

You would not be mistaken in thinking that this recipe and butter chicken are similar dishes.

They are indeed very similar, in fact, the only difference between the two is the sauce.

The sauce in a chicken tikka masala recipe is not butter heavy, whereas the sauce or gravy for butter chicken is.

Seriously that is the only real difference between the two.

Both are effectively ways of adding gravy to chicken tikka. Chicken tikka is effectively nothing more than boneless tandoori chicken.

Obviously, in a restaurant environment, this broadens your menu with little effort!

The grilled or broiled chicken tikka is an essential part of the recipe, do not trust any tikka masala recipe that omits this process.

Portrait close up image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper coated curry bowl

The Origins Of The Chicken Tikka Masala.

My favourite story about the origin of this chicken curry recipe involves beer… It would, wouldn’t it?

Rumour has it back in the 1960’s a drunken punter strolled into a curry house in Glasgow and order a chicken tikka.

When his dish was presented he complained mercilessly that it was dry and where was his sauce.

The waiter took away his dish and returned it to the kitchen where the enterprising chef fashioned a gravy from a tin of tomato soup.

Just like that, the chicken tikka masala was born.

In reality that may or may not be true.

However, the dish is born of the Bengali leanings of migrants to the UK from what was then East Pakistan. It is food that I love, as you can tell from the vast number of curry recipes I cook!

Portrait image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in a copper lined curry bowl with a fork

Sides and Accompaniments.

I like to keep my sides to a curry simple and fairly neutral.

There are so many flavours in a good curry that adding a second curry or strongly flavoured dish seems odd to me.

I usually favour a simply cooked basmati rice and then a flatbread.

As a Brummie then that flatbread should be a naan bread to me. But you could add a roti or chapati and be as good as gold.

Most importantly do not forget the beer, a curry and a beer is at the heart of where this recipe came from!

And if you are on the hunt for more curry then check out all of my chicken curry recipes.

Landscape image of a chicken tikka masala curry served in two copper coated curry bowls served with naan bread against a dark backdrop
Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
A chicken tikka masala is often the recipe first thought of when curry is mentioned, my version cuts back on the richness but leaves all of the flavour. A true British Indian classic recipe!

Ingredients

For the Chicken Tikka:

  • 450 g Chicken Breast
  • 100 g Natural Yoghurt
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 30 g Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 75 g Onion

For the Masala Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Ghee
  • 100 g Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 20 g Ginger
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 175 ml Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1/8 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Sugar

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken in to 3cm cubes.
  2. Take the garlic and ginger and blend to form a paste, adding a little water if required.
  3. Mix this garlic and ginger paste with the remaining ingredients for the chicken tikka, with the exception of the chicken.
  4. Now add in the chicken and massage in the marinade, now set aside and allow to marinade for up to 24 hours but a minimum of 4 hours.
  5. Chop the onion for the masala sauce into a 5mm dice.
  6. Finely chop the ginger and garlic for the masala sauce.
  7. Heat the ghee in a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add the onion and fry until golden for 10 minutes.
  8. Take the onion for the tikka and peel it and cut it into quarters..
  9. Meanwhile heat your broiler to high and thread your chicken on to high and thread your chicken on to metal skewers along with the onion quarters.
  10. When the broiler is hot place the chicken tikka skewers under and cook for 8-10 minutes a side making sure you get them nice and caramalised. 
  11. Add the ginger and garlic to the onions and cook for a further 60 seconds.
  12. Add all of the dried spices and herbs to the garlic ginger and onion mix and cook for 60 seconds once again stirring continuously.
  13. Now add the salt, sugar, tomato pasata and tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes.
  14. I now like to blend the sauce at this stage rather than blending the onion, garlic and ginger earlier you can, of course, leave your sauce chunky. If blending return to the pan and reheat.
  15. Finally, add in the chicken and saute in the sauce for 4-5 minutes and serve, ensuring the chicken reaches an internal temperature reaches 73°C.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 603 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 211mg Sodium: 1213mg Carbohydrates: 34g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 12g Protein: 78g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Readers Comments

18 thoughts on “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. Hi Brian
    Just making your chicken tikka recipe and am a bit confused as what you do with the onion quarters, do they go in the marinade? I’m also having trouble getting Fenugreek leaves, can I substitute with Fenugreek powder or seeds? I have made your lamb madras and your chicken jalfrezi and I have to say they are amazing so thank you for the recipe.

    • Hey there Daniey, I can see where the confusion is coming in here, I have moved the positioning of the onion to a more appropriate spot in the recipe instructions. But the onions do not need to go into the marinade, they are just threaded onto the skewers with the chicken after it has been marinaded and just before it goes under the grill 🙂

      Yes you can sub for seeds or powder, try starting out with 1/2 tsp in with the rest of the spices in the sauce and see where you go from there.

      BTW so glad you like what you have cooked so far 🙂

  2. I have every ingredient in my pantry/freezer except for the yoghurt and tomato pasata. I just ordered the pasata on-line and when it arrives I will just run to the store for the yoghurt. I have made a few of your Indian recipes before (hence having all the ingredients), and based on those experiences, I can’t wait to try this. I also plan on making some of the other Indian dishes on this thread. Thank you!

  3. Haha – as someone who is very familiar with chicken curry vs chicken tikka masala, thank you for your rant! And, also as someone who is is very familiar with chicken tikka masala, this one sounds absolutely scrumptious! Btw, am always missing the bus when it comes to food trends so had no clue rainbow everything was taking over – I need to get my head out of the san eh?! 🙂

    • Unfotunately I spend far too long on social media so get slapped around the face by ridiculous food trends and fads far too often 😉

  4. This looks amazing! I am having some serious dinner envy right now! I need to try this ASAP! Thanks for sharing!

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